Greetings, Loyal Reader!
Continuing our preview of NOBLE CAUSE, Chapter 1. If you missed the earlier episodes, start with part 1 and follow the links. Here we go:
“Thanks. Who’s next?”
“Haakon Hookhand. Haakon!”
No one stepped forward. I scanned the crowd, spying a sturdy sailor who was missing his right hand. In its place was a wickedly sharp steel hook.
“Are you Haakon?” I asked.
He glanced around nervously. “Who me?”
“Yes, you. With the hook. Haakon Hookhand?”
He hid his right hand—or hook, rather—behind his back. “Maybe. I mean no! That is to say…it’s not what you think!”
“What do I think?”
Haakon laughed nervously. “Funny story really. You see, me and me mates were down at the Sassy Seahorse the other night, drinking rum and boasting, as we sailors will do. One thing leads to another and next thing you know I’m saying as I could take on Jason Cosmo himself.”
“Do go on,” I said.
“I didn’t mean nothing by it! It’s more like a figure of speech. Like I’m so hungry I could eat a horse! or I could arm-wrestle an ogre! More of an exaggeration than a declaration of one’s true intent. But then Seamus said as how you were taking all comers. He called me out! I couldn’t back down! I’ve been at sea for months. I had no idea you were in town or I’d have kept me fool mouth shout, and that’s the truth!”
“No doubt,” I said. “But signed up to kill me.”
“That I did,” said Haakon resignedly. “But it was the whiskey talking, I swear!”
“I thought you said rum.”
“Rum did most of the talking, but I’m pretty sure it was the whiskey as convinced me! Oh, I should never have turned to drink. Me mum said it would be the death of me!” Haakon fell to his knees. “I repent of it all! I swear by all The Gods, never will I touch another drop, just please don’t kill me, Jason Cosmo!”
He clasped his hands together in desperate supplication, forgetting that one of his hands was, in fact, a hook.
“You just hooked your own hand,” I said.
“Yes, I noticed.”
“That has to smart.”
“Aye,” said Haakon, through gritted teeth. “The pain is considerable.”
“Well, I can’t fight you now. So I guess you’re off the…er, list. Perhaps another time.”
“Oh, thank you, sir! Thank you!”
“You should have a surgeon tend your hand before it gets infected.”
Haakon scowled. “The last time I let a surgeon tend an injured hand of mine I ended up with this bloody hook! I’ll just pour some rum on and apply a bandage. It will be fine. Thank you again, sir, for your mercy and kindness!”
“You’re welcome. Be a good fellow and spread tales of my mercy if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”